Breathwork

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“Breath of Life in sacred circle” by Margherita Arkaura

Most Neo-Pagan ritual involves some form of breathwork. Breathwork consists of techniques of altering one’s consciousness by controlling the breath. Breath is fundamental to life, which s why the words for “breath” and “spirit” are the same in several languages, including Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, and Hrebew. Wilhelm Reich was one of the first Westerners to realize that psychological defenses often correspond to restricted breathing patterns. Breathwork can transform both our inner experience and our perception of the outer world. One common Neo-Pagan meditation, the Tree of Life mediations, combines breathwork with visualization of oneself as a tree with roots deep in the earth and branches reaching into the heavens.

Tree of Life Meditation

Begin by sitting or standing erect, and breathing deeply and rhythmically.

And as we breathe, remember to sit erect, and as your spine straightens, feel the energy rising . . . (pause).

Now imagine that your spine is the trunk of a tree. . .and from its base roots extend deep into the earth . . . into the center of the earth Herself . . . (pause).

And you can draw up power from the earth, with each breath . . . feel the energy rising . . . like sap rising through a tree trunk . . .

And feel the power rise up your spine . . . feel yourself becoming more alive . . . with each breath . . .

And from the crown of your head, you have branches, that sweep up and back down to touch the earth . . . and feel the power burst from the crown of your head . . . and feel it sweep through the branches until it touches the earth again . . . making a circle . . . making a circuit . . . returning to its source . . .

And breathing deeply, feel how all our branches intertwine . . and the power weaves through them . . and dances among them, like the wind . . . feel it moving . . .  (long pause). 

Now take a deep breath, and suck in the power, as if you were sucking through a straw. Feel it travel down your spine, and flow into the earth. Relax.

(Starhawk, The Spiral Dance)

Updated 7/16/14

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